U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), as well as Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), issued the following statements today upon learning that the U.S. Air Force selected McConnell Air Force Base (AFB) as the Main Operating Base (MOB) #1 for replacing KC-135R tanker aircraft with KC-46A's beginning in 2016. Kansas was the only state to have both of its Air Force bases, Forbes Field in Topeka and McConnell Air Force Base, selected as finalists for the KC-46A Tanker Program.
"I couldn't be more proud that McConnell Air Force Base has been selected as the Main Operating Base for the new KC-46A tankers," Sen. Moran said. "Our state and the city of Wichita have a long history of supporting air mobility and standing behind the air men and women who call McConnell home, and I'm pleased the U.S. Air Force agrees that McConnell is the option whose location, capacity and mission will best meet our country's needs."
"The Air Force's refueling tankers have a long history in Kansas at both McConnell Air Force Base and Forbes Field, and it is great to learn that this esteemed history will continue with the KC-46A tanker mission," Sen. Roberts said. "Kansas airmen and airwomen time and again have demonstrated their steadfast dedication and hard work in contributing to the security of the United States, and our state, with its immense aviation infrastructure, has a great support network of civilian staff, neighbors and friends that help each installation achieve excellence. We welcome this new mission to Kansas and look forward to helping protect this nation for years to come."
"America's Air Force has once again called upon Kansans and McConnell Air Force Base to serve the nation with the world's finest equipment," said Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Co-Chairman of the Congressional Mobility Air Forces Caucus, West Point graduate, and Army veteran. "We're thrilled that McConnell AFB has been recognized as an indispensable part of America's defenses and excited about the opportunities this creates for the rest of Kansas. I look forward seeing the new KC-46A tanker contribute to our national security, from right here in the heartland for decades to come."
"Kansans play an essential role in supporting our nation's defense programs, and I commend the U.S. Air Force for naming McConnell AFB as the Main Operating Base for the new KC-46A tankers. This is good news for our state, and McConnell's distinguished history and capabilities make it an excellent choice," said Rep. Lynn Jenkins (KS-02), Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference. "Although I am disappointed Forbes Field in Topeka was not selected, I am proud the 190th Air Refueling Wing was recognized as a finalist for the tanker program. As the member of Congress representing Forbes Field, I will continue to work with them to ensure they remain a strong candidate for future basing decisions."
The selection of not just one, but both Kansas Air Force bases as candidates is a testament to the critical role our state plays in supporting all branches of our military and allied partners as they carry out missions overseas and at home. Strategically positioned in the heart of the United States, the location, capacity and mission of McConnell and Forbes make both bases exceptionally equipped to provide air mobility globally at a moment's notice.
As the largest air tanker base in the world, McConnell Air Force Base is a key stakeholder in the Wichita community. The base has been the recipient of numerous awards since its beginning in 1941, and received more awards over the past 16 months than all other Air Mobility bases combined. McConnell supports more than 17,000 people, military and civilian, and has an economic impact of $619 million. It assists all branches of the military and allied partners, refueling off of either coast and around the world every day.
Additionally, as part of the selection process, the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Wichita Independent Business Association teamed up to form a coalition, the Tanker Task Force, to help demonstrate that the business community is behind McConnell. Last month, the Air Force hosted an event on KC-46A basing selection that boasted more than 300 area residents showing their support for the base.
Forbes is considered a reasonable alternative and will continue to be considered for future installments of KC-46A tankers, and the Kansas Delegation intends to meet with the U.S. Air Force to discuss specific selection details. Forbes Field Air National Guard Base has a force of approximately 980 military personnel and employs more than 30 federal civilian and 60 state employees supporting missions overseas and here at home. It is one of the 10 largest employers in Topeka and Shawnee County and has an estimated economic impact of $75 million.